Few Nutty (Healthy) Facts!!

walnut-cashew-peanuts.jpgIt is the general belief that nuts are high in calories and fat. Although this belief is quite true, what with, 15 cashews for instance, adding up to 180kcal!! Also, it is very difficult to resist the temptation of binging on these tasty snacks. But, if you can manage to eat limited portions of nuts per day, they will no doubt work wonders for your health.

Researchers have found that people who regularly eat nuts are lesser prone to cardiac diseases. An Iowa Womens Health Study conducted during 1996 found that women who ate nuts four times a week were 40% less likely to die of heart diseases. Two years after this, another study by the Havard School of Public Health found similar results in another group of women. Potential cardiac health benefits were also found among men. In a Physicians Health Study conducted during 2002, it was found that men who consumed nuts twice or more per week were less likely to die of sudden cardiac arrests.

Well, Listed here are proven health benefits of few nuts.

Peanuts: Although peanuts and peanut butter pack a lot of calories, the Pennyslvania State University research has confirmed that 14000 people who were regular peanut and peanut butter eaters had lower Body Mass Index (BMI “ a measure of obesity) and lower cholesterol intake than those who did not eat peanuts. Also, peanuts contain beta-sitosterol, a plant chemical, which blocks cholesterol absorption from foods and inhibits growth of tumors in the colon, breast and prostate.

Walnuts: Walnuts have the highest levels of Omega-3 fats than any other nut! In fact, walnuts are one of the few plant sources that contain the healthy Omega-3 fats that protect against inflammation, heart disease, arthritis, asthma and improve cognitive function. A handful of walnuts supplies approximately 2.6g of Omega-3 fats.

Almonds: Almonds improve cardiovascular health. In a study at the University of California,the researchers substituted almonds and almond oil for half the fat in the diets of their volunteers. At the end of six weeks, the 22 men and women volunteers, had lower levels of total cholesterol (drop by 4%), lower triglycerides (14% drop) and their HDL levels shooted up by 6%.

Cashewnuts: Apart from having a lower fat content than most other nuts, about 75% of the fat found in Cashewnuts is unsaturated fatty acid, which is oleic acid. Oleic acid is the same heart-healthy monosaturated fat, which is otherwise present in olive oil. Studies reveal that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health, even among diabetics. Further, studies have proven that when monosaturated fats are added to the low-fat diet among diabetic patients, it helps reduce excess triglyceride levels.

Pistachios: Pistachios help the heart in four ways: they provide ˜good unsaturated fat, offer highest levels of cholesterol-busting phytosterols among all other snack nuts, and are a good source of fibre. They have high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants with immense heart healthy benefits. They also contain potassium that helps prevent high blood pressure. According to a study published in Volume 26, Number 2 issue of the American College of Nutrition, it was revealed that among people with moderately high cholesterol levels, a daily diet consisting 15% calories from pistachios, over a four-week period, favorably improved blood lipid levels.

Whats more? FDA (Foods and Drug Administration) has also approved the heart health claim for almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts and pistachios, as these nuts contain less than 4g of saturated fats per 50gms. However, this does not imply that you should restrict yourself to eating only these nuts. Even seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds offer the same heart healthy benefits. But, remember, moderation is the key. It is better to limit intake to one or two oz of unsalted nuts per day.